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Plus ça Change

Sarah Jordan

Philadelphia Magazine


What conclusions are we to draw when looking at dreamy photographs of iconic Philadelphia buildings from the recent turn of the century? The images, created by Linda Adelestein, Vincent David Feldman and Ron Tarver, could pass as artifacts from the late 1800s. Are they paeans to lost architectural craftsmanship?

On view at the Philadelphia Art Alliance through September 3rd, Fin De Siècle: Philadelphia 2000 examines work by these photographers, each of whose pieces use innovative processing to explore the passage of time.
Curator Amy Schlegel juxtaposes Adelstein’s large works with vintage postcards of the city. Schlagel liked the interplay of the two centuries. Feldman captures buildings that were once grand with a view camera, which renders greater detail than the human eye. His intense scrutiny of neglected relics hints at nostalgia for days when we were better caregivers to our architectural beauties. Tarver’s “Our Town” series features images akin to the Photo Secessionists of the Stieglitz circle. Tarver’s images (below, “Dwellings”) are toned in coffee to create a patina of faux-age. His work romanticizes the urban landscape and allows for the possibility of odd beauty even in our city’s bleakest corners. 251 S. 18th St. 215-545-4302.

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